A 1920 newspaper listing of births and deaths from the civil register.
Since the early 19th century, people in The Netherlands have printed announcements of important events like
marriage or death, in newspapers or on cards. At first, it was only the better situated families who did it, but
nowadays, almost everyone will send printed cards or publish newspaper advertisements on births, marriages, and deaths,
and occasionally engagements, anniversaries, jubilees, and other events.
Some local newspapers also used to have a daily list of births and deaths. Their data often came
directly from the civil register.
These announcements are called familieberichten (family messages) or familie-annonces (family
Most people send cards after the births of their children. Newspaper ads are less common, and when they do exist,
they usually look like small classified ads. These cards usually have the names of the newborn, the parents and the
siblings, and the address of the family. Sometimes there is also a hint about the times visitors are welcome.
A 1913 wedding announcement
Weddings and engagements
Wedding cards are used to announce the marriage, and to invite people to the wedding. Cards will have the names
and current addresses of the future bride and groom, and the date, time and location of the civil wedding, church wedding
and reception (note that since 1811, a church wedding can only take place after the civil wedding).
Newspaper ads may look like the cards or they can look like a classified ad, but most people don't place an ad at all.
Engagement cards are less common. These are usually sent after engagements to announce the event, but occasionally
they are sent in advance and contain an invitation to a reception or other celebration. Newspaper ads are rare and
usually look like classified ads.
Deaths and funerals
A 1918 newspaper ad announcing the death of Barend van Kampen
Death notices are the most common familieberichten. When someone dies, the bereaved will send a printed card to relatives and
friends announcing the death of their loved one, and inviting people to come to the funeral. Often, they will also
print a newspaper advertisement in the local newspaper, or in the newspaper the deceased used to read, with the same
text. These death notices will contain the name and age of the deceased, the death date, the last place of residence,
names and residences of the spouse and children and sometimes grandchildren, date and place of the funeral (or cremation), and a
contact address. Many cards, especially from protestant families, will contain a bible quote, or, more recently, a
The same death notice (of Barend van Kampen), but now on a printed card
Many families (especially protestants) send a thank you note to those who have attended the funeral, or otherwise
expressed their sympathy. These are sent a few weeks after the funeral. The cards are similar in style and layout to the
death notices, but they will only have the name of the surviving partner, or of one of the children, who will express
his/her thanks on behalf of the family.
Catholic families usually hand out bidprentjes (mortuary cards), small cards with often a few biographical
details and sometimes a picture of the deceased, a devotional text, and a request to pray for the soul of the
A newspaper ad by teacher A. Meeth, listing students passing an exam (1922).
Occasionally, other events like jubilees or anniversaries are announced in a newspaper or periodical. For a wedding
anniverary, for example, the children may place an ad announcing the event in the local newspaper, or a company may list
people who have been employed 10 or 25 years in their periodical. After the annual school exams, local newspapers
often list the names of those who have passed. Commercial adult education institutions advertise students who passed
exams. Magazines and newspapers sometimes have features on special anniversaries, like a 100th birthday, or a 60 year
Familieberichten: Where do I find them?
The best place to find them is in family archives. Many families have collected the birth, marriage or death cards
of their nearest relatives. Your cousins may have a box of these cards somewhere, or maybe there are a few stuck inside
photo albums or scrapbooks you or your relatives still have.
There are two major collections of familieberichten in The Netherlands: The collections of the
Dutch Genealogical Society (NGV), only accessible for members, and only at their
headquarters in Naarden (the collection bidprentjes is partly indexed online, but also only for members), and
of the Central Bureau of Genealogy (CBG), available in their study room
in The Hague, and partly online (for a small fee).
Newspaper collections can be consulted in the Royal Dutch Library, libraries and
archives. Some newspapers are available online, e.g. on the newspaper website
of the Royal Dutch Library.